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Author Topic: Don't take your ham licence for granted!  (Read 2192 times)
HS0ZIB
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Posts: 571




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« on: September 11, 2017, 04:37:31 AM »

I'm just ranting, but it makes me feel better to get this off my chest.

(I've posted this in DXing, because it concerns a 'DX' jurisdiction).

Imagine your hobby is fishing.  You need to get a fishing licence from your local authorities to legally enjoy your hobby.  No problem! Pop down to the licencing office, pay your money and pick up your licence.  You take it for granted.

What about game or clay pigeon shooting?  The rules and regulations are usually rather strict, because a firearm is involved.  But the same rules apply.  Go to the licencing office, provide your documents, pay the fee and pick up your gun licence.  It's a no-brainer!

What about ham radio?  That's easy.  Take the technical exam, apply for your ham licence, pay the fees and pick up your ham licence and shiny new call-sign.  It's that easy.

Or is it?

Now imagine the situation where you have passed the technical exam.  You have already held a ham licence in a different jurisdiction for more than 30 years.  Actually, your employment and academic qualifications are directly related to your ham radio hobby.  You design and develop radio-communications equipment, especially transceivers and radio-communications systems that are used in pre and post-disaster scenarios, such as might occur when there is a tsunami, earthquake or hurricane.

Surely the licencing authorities will almost bite your hand off to issue you with the ham licence, so that you can continue to develop your emergency equipment and to provide this free-of-charge and your technical advice to the disaster management authorities?

You would think so, wouldn't you?

When I lived in Thailand, that was certainly the case.  The Thai authorities issued me with a Thai ham licence and I was encouraged to develop radio-comms systems, including a Winlink base-station with a coverage region over the Indian Ocean, as well as mobile NVIS HF systems and mobile wi-fi hot-spot systems linked to echolink for post-disaster use.

But then I moved to Myanmar.....

I moved to the country of Myanmar (formerly called Burma) in 2012, and offered my technical skills to the authorities. To continue the development and implementation of my emergency systems, I would need a ham licence, to legally operate my radio transceivers.  But my offer fell on deaf ears.

If you check back into the history of ham radio in Myanmar, there were many radio hams in the 20th century, including many local Burmese citizens.  That all changed in 1962 when (according to face-to-face information from the Myanmar radio licencing department), the government banned ham radio, and informed the ITU of that decision.

Since 1962, there have been a number of DXpeditions to Myanmar.  But none of these DXpeditions were actually issued with a Myanmar ham radio licence, (because it was banned).  Again, according to information provided by the radio licencing department, they were all issued with temporary permits to test transmitters, not ham licences.

They were operating legally of course, because the permit was issued by the radio licencing department.

Since 2012, (with a break in 2014 when I worked in Laos), I have been living and working in Myanmar, and trying to persuade the Myanmar radio licencing authorities to issue me with a ham licence, not only to operate my ham gear legally, but especially to allow me to continue my development of emergency radio-comms equipment for the benefit of the country.

Alas, we are now fast-approaching 2018 and almost 6 years after I started my efforts to get that elusive licence, I seem no nearer to my goal.  I have had many face-to-face meetings with the authorities, made presentations about ham radio, Winlink, STEM education blah blah blah, as well as donated radio-comms equipment and software to that licencing authority.  The response is always polite, but never concrete. (Asian people don't like to say 'no', to avoid the recipient of this information losing 'face').  So I never hear a 'no', but I never hear a 'yes'. (I hear a 'maybe', but I have heard 'maybe' too many times to believe it anymore).

I'm getting older, and I miss my ham radio hobby very much.  (Can you imagine being banned from enjoying your ham radio hobby for the past 6 years?  It's a ludicrous situation!!).

So, I will try for a few more months to persuade the licencing authorities to consider my request.  But at the end of this year, if there are no positive signs, then I will resign my job and return to Thailand, and pick up my radio-comms development work where I left off.

I'm really demoralised by the years that I've spent in Myanmar trying to persuade the authorities of my good intentions.  It is like hitting your head against a brick wall for six years. My head is starting to hurt.....

Unfortunately, the recent and violent events on the border with Bangladesh might well be yet another reason for the authorities to 'play me along'.

OK, rant over. I'm going to listen to my ham rig for a bit, (but not press that microphone button!).
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K4HB
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2017, 03:42:38 PM »

At first you had me wondering if my XZ contacts were legit with ham radio being banned in Myanmar. Those contacts were approved by DXCC, but they can be purged if they are later considered to be illegal. But since their temporary permits to test transmitters made their operations legal, that was a sigh of relief. Soooooo... Any chance you can get a temporary permit to test your transmitter and keep renewing it?

Listing and not transmitting is for SWLs who have no desire to transmit. Doing that would be pure torture for me. I believe I would pack the radio up and send it to someone to hold for me before I would just listen. And then start making serious plans to go where I can transmit. We only go through here once, so we need some time to do the things we truly enjoy.
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HS0ZIB
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 05:59:21 PM »

Quote
At first you had me wondering if my XZ contacts were legit with ham radio being banned in Myanmar.

Don't worry! The radio licencing department told me all were legit because a transmitter test permit was issued for these DXpeditions

In my case, I am not interested in a '2-week' permit, because I live here all the time and want to be able to operate all the time.  I was told that they would issue me with this permit and then - as you suggest - renew it every time that it expires.

Unfortunately, the issue date of that permit has never been stated.  It could be tomorrow or 2050, and being a mere mortal, I really need to move on if it's the latter date Smiley
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2017, 06:53:24 PM »

Parachuting into any country uninvited and offering to help its government with anything is a high-risk proposition. It evidently worked for you in Thailand, but that's no guarantee it would work in Myanmar or anywhere else. The outcome could have been far worse than "no progress made".
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 07:12:08 PM by AA6YQ » Logged
HS0ZIB
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 09:40:38 PM »

Quote
Parachuting into any country uninvited..

Well, that's not quite how it happened of course.  In any case, I was invited through technical contacts to help their radio licencing guys.

But you are correct that there was never any guarantee that a long-term licence would be forthcoming. I've been patient for almost 6 years, but it's maybe time to move on.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 10:29:46 PM »

Quote
Parachuting into any country uninvited..

Well, that's not quite how it happened of course.  In any case, I was invited through technical contacts to help their radio licencing guys.

But you are correct that there was never any guarantee that a long-term licence would be forthcoming. I've been patient for almost 6 years, but it's maybe time to move on.

If the people you seek to help aren't the ones who invited you, then it's a high-risk proposition. There's a long list of reasons -- both good and bad -- why people decline/avoid help from "outsiders".
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HS0ZIB
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 01:56:33 AM »

Quote
If the people you seek to help aren't the ones who invited you, then it's a high-risk proposition

It is the radio licencing department (the people who issue the licences) who invited me to assist them with technical advice.  So I've been using a 'I scratch your back and you scratch mine' strategy as one method to get the ham licence.

Unfortunately, although I've 'scratched their backs' on numerous occasions, (and made them clear about 'my back' and how it needs 'scratching'), they haven't yet returned the favor LoL!
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VE3VEE
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 04:11:19 AM »


It is the radio licencing department (the people who issue the licences) who invited me to assist them with technical advice.


Hi Simon,

Thanks for posting the story.

It's a pity you didn't make the issuing of your license a condition of your moving to XZ and working with them. But I'm sure you didn't anticipate it would be so difficult or impossible.  Sad

Marvin VE3VEE
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HS0ZIB
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2017, 04:24:55 AM »

Quote
It's a pity you didn't make the issuing of your license a condition of your moving to XZ and working with them.

Had I done that, I would never have relocated to Myanmar, because there is no way that the authorities would have agreed to that condition.

No, I moved to live and work in Myanmar in the hope of getting an XZ licence at some time in the future, but there were never any promises about this.

After 6 years of effort, that doesn't seem to be happening, and although I'm a very patient sort of guy, I'm also getting older!  I fancy kicking back on a Thai island beach with my vertical antennas 'dipping their toes' in the blue waters.

I'm not going to return to live on Phuket Island, but I will be visiting some of the more remote and lesser-known tropical islands, especially those which still don't have electricity (QRN from lousy power lines is a real issue in Asia - there are still many small islands with viable communities who use solar power).
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AE5X
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2017, 05:09:05 AM »

made presentations about ham radio, Winlink, STEM education blah blah blah, as well as donated radio-comms equipment and software to that licencing authority.

Maybe these things are not the proper currency that is sought in return for a license...
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HS0ZIB
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2017, 06:13:04 AM »

Quote
Maybe these things are not the proper currency that is sought in return for a license...

LoL. having lived in south-east Asia for 15 years, and understanding how things 'work', the proper currency was also offered (in a subtle manner). But they were not interested and actually said that their permission could not be bought.

Who knows?  They could grant me permission tomorrow.  But I'm already planning my move back to Thailand.  I have a lot of ham gear in store, including my DX Engineering 80/40 Thunderbolt antenna that I imported at great expense, and which previously performed excellently.

My plan this time is to rent a plot of land in a good and quiet location, build a nice teak-wood house, teach online (which I've done before and which provides a decent income), and put up some permanent antennas.

I'm not allowed to rent a house nor land in Myanmar - I have to live at a hotel which makes putting decent (or any) ham antennas rather a challenge.
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AE5X
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2017, 07:31:04 AM »

But I'm already planning my move back to Thailand.

But won't you miss your neater, sweeter maiden?

Kipling:

"I am sick of wastin' leather on these gritty paving stones,
And the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones.
Tho' I walks with fifty housemaids from Chelsea to the Strand,
And they talks a lot of lovin', but what do they understand?
    Beefy face and grubby -- what do they understand?
    I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there ain't no Ten Commandments and a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are calling, and it's there that I would be --
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea."
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NU1O
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Posts: 4285




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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2017, 01:50:12 PM »

Quote
Maybe these things are not the proper currency that is sought in return for a license...

LoL. having lived in south-east Asia for 15 years, and understanding how things 'work', the proper currency was also offered (in a subtle manner). But they were not interested and actually said that their permission could not be bought.



Everybody can be bought.  You may not have enough gold but there's a price they'd find to be acceptable. 

You kind of threw me off with the topic heading.  I thought you were referring to those of us IN the USA but this is really a Burmese thing.

Good luck, Simon!

73,

Chris  NU1O

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NU1O
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2017, 03:05:45 PM »

But I'm already planning my move back to Thailand.

But won't you miss your neater, sweeter maiden?

Kipling:

"I am sick of wastin' leather on these gritty paving stones,
And the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones.
Tho' I walks with fifty housemaids from Chelsea to the Strand,
And they talks a lot of lovin', but what do they understand?
    Beefy face and grubby -- what do they understand?
    I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there ain't no Ten Commandments and a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are calling, and it's there that I would be --
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea."

I'm going to have to read more Kipling. That's a beautiful passage.  The problem is lack of time.  I'm currently reading "K-129" which is about the CIA's covert op. using Howard Hughes's empire to raise a Russian submarine.  Seems like I'm constantly reminding myself it's a true story because it reads more like a Tom Clancy novel.  I highly recommend it.

73,

Chris  NU1O

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WO7R
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« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2017, 03:19:44 PM »

Can we stop giving advice to someone who has lived in these cultures for far longer than any of us have?

Seriously, just stop.  It's a pity he could not make it work, but it's not like he's the first (nor will he be the last) ham that had half promises dangled by one of these governments that never quite made the grade all the way to the end.

In some of these places, alas, winning and losing is part of the game.  A game I daresay he knows more about than the rest of us will.
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